|Kallis' fellow batsman Hashim Amla described him as 'the key' to the team for the last 15 years [AFP]
An unbeaten 81 by Jacques Kallis put South Africa in command on the first day of the deciding third Test against India in Cape Town, while India paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth said he had no regrets about his argument with Proteas captain Graeme Smith in the previous match.
Chunky all-rounder Kallis came to the crease with the hosts struggling on 34 for two but he batted through the rest of the day to lift them to 232 for four at the close on Sunday.
Ashwell Prince was unbeaten on 28 after the pair put together an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 68, frustrating top-ranked India who are bidding to win their first Test series in South Africa.
Kallis earlier shared partnerships of 72 for the third wicket with Hashim Amla and 58 for the fourth with AB de Villiers as South Africa responded well after being sent into bat under overcast skies.
"Jacques has probably been the key to our team for 15 years now," Amla said at the close at Newlands.
"On a testing pitch there's always going to be playing and missing. He showed his class today, kept the innings together and played really well."
India fast bowler Zaheer Khan made an early breakthrough when he trapped Smith lbw for six, the sixth time the left-arm seamer has dismissed the South Africa captain in nine Tests.
South Africa first innings
A Petersen c Dhoni b Ishant 21
G Smith lbw b Zaheer 6
H Amla c Pujara b Sreesanth 59
J Kallis not out 81
A de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth 26
A Prince not out 28
Total (for four, 74 overs) 232
FoW 1-17 2-34 3-106 4-164
Table Mountain was hidden behind clouds and there were two rain delays, with 85 minutes lost before lunch and another 27 before tea.
Opening batsman Alviro Petersen fell for 21, edging a drive off Ishant Sharma into the gloves of wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Amla was in an adventurous mood after the second rain delay, scoring 37 runs off 32 balls to reach 59 before he hooked Sreesanth into the hands of Cheteshwar Pujara at deep square-leg.
South Africa had limped to 106 for three but gutsy batting from Kallis and De Villiers took them to tea without further loss.
The clouds cleared after the interval and South Africa batted in bright sunshine for much of an extended final session but De Villiers failed to cash in as the pitch flattened out, caught behind for 26 by Dhoni off Sreesanth.
Kallis, who scored his maiden Test double century in the first match in Centurion, struck six fours off 169 balls and never looked in serious trouble in the testing conditions.
Prince was also in positive mood as he hit three early boundaries before withdrawing into his shell as stumps approached.
Sreesanth was the most successful India bowler with figures of two for 70 in 21 overs.
Sreesanth said on Sunday he had been "woken up" by his row with Smith in the second Test last week.
Sreesanth and Smith exchanged angry words in South Africa's second innings in Durban, with Smith even waving his bat at the bowler.
The bowler was unapologetic on Sunday, listing his exchange with Smith as one of the reasons for his success.
He told a news conference: "Smith woke me up, thanks to him. I was a bit asleep in the series. He said to me that I wasn't good enough and I thought I was good enough to get him out and that's what happened in Durban."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had admitted that "it is good for everybody - players, umpires, spectators - if we control Sreesanth."